A new course in Sweden asks, “what will a self-sufficient Hällefors Municipality taste like in 2030?” By turning ‘would-be-nice’ ideas into tangible prototypes, it turns ecological transition from an aspiration, into a practice. Included here: 20x emerging new livelihoods - from Edible Food Forests, to School-Farm Biocantines
Mapping Local Resources. Connecting Growers & Citizens. New Co-operatives. Urban-rural reconnection. (These videos introduce the annual Back To The Land 2.0 summer school, in Sweden, that I run together with Konstfack).
Some of my more popular talks on video: From Biomedicine to Bioregion - The Geographies of Care | Thinking Like a Forest | Future Ways of Living | The Skills We need | Regenerative City | Social Farming
Annie Proulx on Barkskins | Simone Weil on The Need for Roots | Pamela Mang on Storying of Place | Jane Memmott on Ecosystem Interactions | Arturo Escobar on Buen Vivir | Gloria E. Anzaldúa on weaving | Ann Whiston Spirn on Bacterial Urbanism | Margaret Wheatley on Emergence | Molly Scott Cato on Gaian Economics | and many more
Drawing on my work organising Doors of Perceptions and xskools in 20 countries, the following three research topics are the focus of my contribution at Tongji University in Shanghai (D&I): Care. Value. Place | Urban-Rural Reconnection | Knowledge ecologies and scale
Social food projects re-make relationships between people, food and place | They reconnect urban and rural | As a medium of hospitality, they create solidarity and mutual understanding | They diversify income for farmers | They enhance the health and well-being of socially-isolated people | They can increase biodiversity ...
The Greek physician Hippocrates described the effects of “airs, waters, and places” on the health of individuals and communities. The industrial age distracted us from this whole-systems understanding of the world - but we are now learning again to think of cities as habitats, and as ecosystems, that co-exist on a single living planet. (Chapter for a new Cite du Design book)
What is the a co-op grains movement, and how does it work? In this case, sixty citizens have each invested in a farmer's field for a year. Together with the farmer, they decided what to grow, how to grow it and what happens with the crop. It's a shared farming experience that supports farmers financially, and emotionally, and connects city people to what it takes to grow food.
The health of the soils, watersheds and biodiversity is in all our interests - so why should farmers do it all on their own? Interest is growing in ways by which citizens can play a practical role. The social, educational and health benefits of social farming can be huge - but they need to be designed....
I’ve come to an inconvenient conclusion: production is not the purpose of life. I say inconvenient because many of us depend on industrial production to meet our daily life needs. But the perpetual search for new forms of production - whether ‘clean’, ‘green’ or ‘circular’ - is not where our future lies. (Interview with Valentina Croci of Domus Magazine)
People go hungry not because of a shortage of production, but because the food available is too expensive, or they lack the land to grow it on. In California, the prototype of a combined social, political and technical solution has been launched which promises to unlock the food system crisis.
I’d be surprised if many readers of this blog work for the fracking industry. Those charming people spend a lot on lobbying and public relations, sure – but their main aim in life is to remain obscure.
But food and drink? The branding, the packaging, the communications, the stores, the promotions, [continue …]
Hanging out with health system innovators in recent times I’ve been struck by two interesting things. The first is that the buzz in the investor community about health apps is palpable. To feed the hunger, a new incubator called Rock Health, positioning itself as “the seed accelerator for health [continue …]
A splendid new book from Monacelli Press marks the coming of age of urban agriculture – at least for the design world. Carrot City: Creating Places for Urban Agriculture is a timely reflection on design and urban food systems, and on [continue …]
When Jimmy Carbone, co-creator of The Good Beer Seal, was considering running for mayor of his old hometown in Haverhill, Massachusetts, he began to ponder possible new uses for industrial buildings that had fallen in to disuse. Could small resource-sharing breweries be a centerpiece of [continue …]
[Stop Press: Polydome has been shortlisted for the 2012 Buckminster Fukller Challenge]
A few years ago urban farming in developed cities was a fringe topic that few designers or architects thought much about. There were exceptions: we tried hard [but failed] to build a prototype of Natalie Jeremijenko’s Urban Space [continue …]
Italians are the leading consumers of bottled water in the world. They drink more than 40 gallons per person annually. Among many ecocidal by-products: until recently, discarded plastic bottles littered canals all over Venice, a world heritage site.
Appeals to civic duty came to naught. Exhortation and public education proved ineffective [continue …]
Shopping for a snack in central London yesterday evening I counted an extraordinary 78 metres (256 feet) of chiller cabinets in one small central London branch of Marks and Spencer.
Marks and Spencer have made a laudable commitment to make all it UK and Irish operations carbon neutral within five [continue …]
Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), told the US Congress last week that Japan’s debt path was out of control. Simon warned of “a real risk that Japan could end up in a major default”. [The IMF expects Japan’s gross public debt to reach [continue …]
I came across a fascinating essay about permaculture and energy descent in Mexico that introduces me for the first time to the existence of so-called permaculture punks in Mexico City. Its author, Holger Hieronimi, has spent the last seven years developing a permaculture [continue …]
In September a new event called Agriculture 2.0 will introduce a select group of alternative agriculture entrepreneurs to investors. SPIN-Farming LLC, together with NewSeed Advisors will co-host Agriculture 2.0 in New York.
Roxanne Christensen, co-author of the SPIN-Farming online learning series, says a wave of innovators is developing [continue …]
I’ve been on the road most of this month talking and meeting and transitioning (see above) like mad – but not actually dong anything practical. So yesterday I spent the day up in the mountains helping to construct a bio-intensive, multi-layered planting bed under the instruction of a noted agro-ecologist [continue …]
In 2007 Lord Cameron of Dillington, first head of the UK Countryside Agency, famously remarked that Britain was ‘nine meals away from anarchy.’ Britain’s food supply is so totally dependent on oil – 95 per cent of the food eaten there is oil-dependent [continue …]
I’m reading reading a moving and important book by Sharon Astyk called “Depletion and Abundance: Life On The New Home Front”.
Uniquely among recent books on life after the Peaks – energy, protein, biodiversity etc – Astyk does not write to scare us [continue …]
The British government is in talks with supermarkets about emergency food reserves “in case the infrastructure of the country breaks down”. The exercise is being spun as a response to possible strikes by fuel tanker drivers, but the more likely explanation is that the precarious [continue …]
Out-of-control buzzwords are like locusts: you can swat handfuls of them down with a bat, but more will come to take their place.
I’ve been swatting away for ages in this blog at all things Conceptual, Cultural, Clustered and (especially) Creative. But now we’re suffering a massive counter-attack by the [continue …]